After a few years of solid tourism growth the political instability of 2012 kept visitors out of Kenya. Win things relatively normal again expect numbers to improve.
Tourism revenue in Kenya, the country’s second-biggest foreign exchange earner, is forecast to rise to more than 100 billion shillings (1.2 billion) this year, Muriithi Ndegwa, head of the tourism authority, said.
East Africa’s largest economy expects a boost after the passage of peaceful elections in March eased concerns by tourists about violence and political instability, Ndegwa, managing director of the Kenya Tourism Board, said in an interview today in the capital, Nairobi.
“We expect to surpass the 100 billion shilling mark this year on increased visitors as a result of the peaceful elections,” Ndegwa said. Arrivals may rise 10 percent, he said.
Tourism income fell to 96 billion shillings last year from 97.9 billion shillings in 2011, while arrivals were little changed at 1.78 million. The country, home to wild-game parks including the Maasai Mara in the southwest and Indian Ocean beaches, had been targeting 3 million visitors by 2015.
Uhuru Kenyatta was elected president during the March 4 vote. Kenyatta is scheduled to begin trial in November at The Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity for organizing clashes following a disputed election in Dec. 2007 that left more than 1,100 people dead. Kenyatta, the former deputy prime minister, denies the charges.
Tourism has also been dented by the threat from al-Shabaab, which threatened to retaliate for Kenya sending troops into Somalia in 2011 to fight the militant group.
Travel alerts were issued by nations including the U.S. and U.K. following the murder and kidnapping of foreign visitors on the country’s coast and grenade attacks in Nairobi and the northern region.
Tea is the country’s largest foreign-income earner.
Editors: Sarah McGregor, Zahra Hankir. To contact the reporter on this story: Johnstone Ole Turana in Nairobi at [email protected]. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at [email protected]
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Photo credit: Tourists sail on a dhow around Lamu island in the Indian Ocean off the northern coast of Kenya. Goran Tomasevic / Reuters